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Archive for December, 2010

Congress Postpones Medicare Pay Cuts for Doctors

31 Dec

With the help of a Senate Finance Committee, a bill has been passed to freeze Medicare reimbursements at current levels for another 12 months. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Medicare and Medicaid Extenders Act of 2010 on December 9.

The bill, which is effective January 1, 2011, will eliminate the 25 percent cut in reimbursements that doctors would have faced. Needless to say, doctors are happy with the move, even if it only solves the issue for another 12 months.

"Stopping the steep 25 percent Medicare cut for one year was vital to preserve seniors’ access to physician care in 2011," said Dr. Cecil Wilson, president of the American Medical Association.

The House vote was nearly unanimous, at 409 to 2. President Obama just has to sign the new law and it will take effect, and since he was already a champion for the cause, that should not be an issue.

This is also good news for elderly patients, since some doctors have said that the dwindling Medicare payments and a further cut would have meant that they could no longer see new Medicare patients. In fact, surveys have shown that up to 43 percent of doctors who see Medicare patients would stop seeing them if the pay cut would have gone through.

"One of our top priorities next year will be to make (the fix) permanent, so our seniors can find doctors," said Rep. Wally Herger, Republican from Chico, Califnornia.

The only two in the House to vote against the bill were Brian Baird (D, WA) and Tom McClintock (R, CA-04).

Lawmakers have faced this same issue every year since the ’90s. But every year they "kick the can" ahead, so to speak.

"The fix is helpful," said Tricia Neuman, a vice-president of the Kaiser Family Foundation and director of its Medicare Policy Project. But "similar problems will resurface next year because the underlying sustainable growth formula for physician payments has not been reformed."

 
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ASA Helps Parents Reduce Chances of Surgical Complications in Obese Kids

27 Dec

Childhood obesity is a major problem that is reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S.
and much of the developed world. There are twice as many children who are obese than
20 years ago, and three times the number of adolescents who are obese.

This, of course, has major health ramifications, but not just in the areas you might be
thinking of, such as diabetes and heart disease. If a child has to be given anesthesia for a
medical procedure, they face bigger risks than their thinner healthier counterparts.

That is why The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is raising awareness
by educating parents about the potential complications their children may face when
undergoing anesthesia.

Since children’s airways are still in the midst of development, anesthesia can be more
complicated with kids than with adults. This means their airways are more prone to
collapse during the administration of anesthesia. The risk increases when a child is obese.

“Obese children have extra tissue surrounding their airway, chest, and abdomen that can
impair breathing while under anesthesia, and limit the amount of oxygen they receive
during surgery. This can lead to a range of complications including impairment of lung
function and in severe circumstances even brain damage,” said Mark Singleton, M.D.,
ASA member and chair of the committee on pediatric anesthesia.

Here are some tips that the ASA is giving parents to optimize their children’s surgical
outcomes, not to mention their overall health:

- The first and most logical choice is to help your child lose weight before their surgery.
Even just a few pounds of weight loss can have a positive impact on the outcome of your
child’s medical procedure. You can do this by encouraging simple healthy eating habits
at home and when they are in school or elsewhere.

- Make sure that you child’s anesthesiologist has experience with obese patients,
particularly children. Speak with them about the specific risks involved.

- When you embark on helping your child get to a healthy weight, set reasonable goals.
Make an appointment with your pediatrician to set up a safe weight-loss program for
your child. Also discuss the weight loss program with your child’s anesthesiologist and
surgeon to make sure it won’t interfere with their future medical procedure.

- Remember when kids played outside rather than sitting at home playing video games
day and night? Get your back into a daily exercise that all kids should enjoy. Sign them
up for team sports or after-school physical activities. And even if that isn’t something
they are interested in, just get them outside with friends to run around.

Dr. Singleton goes on to say the following:

“As the physicians responsible for protecting the vital health of patients when they are
at their most vulnerable – before, during and after surgery – we’re urging parents and
youths alike to educate themselves about the potential risks associated with pediatric
obesity and to fight this growing trend by making changes that enable them to lose
weight while maintaining an active lifestyle.”

 

Allscripts MyWay Qualifies for Funding Under American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

23 Dec

Allscripts MyWay EHR version 9.0 recently received Complete EHR Ambulatory certification. This means that the software, an integrated electronic health records and practice management solution, now enables providers to meet the Stage One meaningful use measures that are required to qualify for funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

“The certification of our MyWay EHR provides physicians in independent practice and small groups an electronic health record that is simple, easy to use and that works the way their practice works, while positioning them to qualify for federal incentives under ARRA,” said Glen Tullman, Chief Executive Officer of Allscripts.

The software was tested and certified under the Drummond Group’s Electronic Health Records Office of the National Coordinator Authorized Testing and Certification Body (ONC-ATCB) program. Their certification program tests and certifies EHRs to make sure that they fit the criteria adopted by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, currently Kathleen Sebelius.

Healthcare providers who use the Allscripts EHR system are qualified to receive federal stimulus money once they demonstrate “meaningful use” of the technology.

Allscripts MyWay version 9.0 is currently available in two forms: an on-premise software solution or as a SaaS (Software as a Service), which is software deployed over the Internet.

MBA Medical uses the Allscripts MyWay, and has seen firsthand how this intuitive easy-to-use software can make managing medical records a much more efficient process. For more information, including a video presentation on the software, go to our AllScripts EMR Software page.